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Childhood memories of World War 2

by actiondesksheffield

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Anne Elizabeth Lumb (nee Shepherd), James Edward Shepherd, Dorothy Shepherd, Michael Edward Shepherd and Jean Shepherd.
Location of story: 
Sheffield South Yorkshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
13 January 2006

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Alan Shippam of the ‘Action Desk — Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Ann Lumb, and has been added to the site with the author’s permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

I was born in June 1935 and my earliest recollection of the war is of going to school in 1940. My brother and I attended Ecclesall C. of E. School on Ringinglow Rd Sheffield. We had our gas masks round our necks, although thankfully, we never had cause to use them. One day the sirens went; in the daytime they were usually false alarms, and I recall some people took us in along with other children going to school. These people had what we called a table shelter, a large re-enforced table which you could crawl under and be sheltered in case of bombs. People would paint a T sign on the outside wall so you could tell which people had them, they were large and filled the room they were in.

I recall the cold damp air raid shelters at school where we practiced in case it was ever necessary for us to use them. They held supplies of thin white chocolate, which I assume were for emergencies. We never used the shelters, but later, I remember eating the chocolate. My father grew vegetables and we had chickens. In summer, we picked wild raspberries and blackberries from the fields and my mother made jam.

I recall on the playing fields of High Storrs School, there was an Army camp, and the soldiers used to come to the houses in our road (Highcliffe Drive) for baths. I think they had guns on the camp, as sometimes our gardens had large piles of shrapnel and our windows cracked.

My father built a shelter at the top of the garden, with railway sleepers and corrugated iron sheets, and he covered it in turf. On clear nights, if raids were expected, they put us to bed, my brother and I had bunks and my little sister Jean had a cot.

We took the canary in its cage and our cat. Two other strays used to stay as well, they never fought. Mother said they must have known to behave.

My father was refused service when war started as he had had a kidney removed, but he was in the ARP Rescue. He left home on the Thursday of the 1st Blitz and did not return until the following Tuesday. My mother must have been terribly concerned.
I can recall him coming home, filthy and covered in dust. He was so exhausted, he couldn’t hold a cup and fell asleep on the floor. Later, when he took his coat off, we found a tiny little cat, which had survived; we had her for a long time and called her Blitz.

My only recollection of the Sheffield Blitz was the red glow in the sky from the burning city centre.

Father told us stories of rescue work. One old lady rescued after hours asked him to go back for her knitting. In the Sharrow and Nether Edge area, there was a lot of damage. One night, father was asked to go for some equipment and when he got back, the house and rescuers had vanished. We assumed a bomb had exploded, he was very shocked.

We were sent to our Aunt's house in Berwick on Tweed for safety, but one day a German plane dive bombed when we were playing outside. My Aunt pushed us in the house and the plane bombed the last house on the road. I still recall seeing the pilot with his helmet and goggles, it was so low.

Father fetched us home after that and said we should all be together. The planes were bombing the convoys taking supplies to Russia.

I do not recall much else apart from listening to D-Day landings in the school hall. I passed my 11+ and went to Grammer School in 1946. My parents survived into their 80’s, my brother to 76. My sister and I are well; we often say how hard it must have been to bring children up in those difficult days, but everyone pulled together. Things were shared, clothes were passed on, everyone helped, and I’m sure we are all a lot stronger for it.


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